Tonight, NBC News posted a video online by Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel sharing some reflections of the last five years in Iraq on this anniversary of the commencement of the Iraq war. In the video, Engel is shown returning to the Palestine Hotel where he had lived in the first few months of 2003 amongst the many foreign journalists who called the hotel home. He was living there in April 2003 when a U.S. tank suddenly fired on the hotel, killing two journalists and wounding three others.
"I remember coming up here, and seeing the blood, hearing other journalists screaming....everyone got covered in blood," said Engel, who returned to the actual room of the cameramen who were killed, and looked at the bed, remembering the blood on it; he had wanted to see his old room, but the floor had been damaged in a bombing 2 and a half years ago (or, at the mid-point between the Palestine Hotel attack and today).
Engel's emotion is apparent in the video, particularly at the end where he sits in the room and talks about his time in Baghdad, showing a range of emotion as he puts his thoughts into words. "I didn't expect it would be so emotional to be back here...but five years later, so much has changed - for me, for this country, for this room....five years ago, it was clear something big was happening," he says, saying that it feels like another turning point may have been reached — maybe. "Am I going to be here in another two, or three, or five years, still reporting about the war in Iraq?"
He also recalls how, five years ago, the world couldn't get enough details of the war, but now "the world has moved on. People don't want to hear about Iraq anymore." Even so, says Engel, he plans to stay in the region, and on the: "I still think this story is the story of my generation — it is the defining historical event."
Says Engel: "I thought the war would make me harder and it would make me tougher - and initially it did," says Engel. "But then after a certain point, it starts to hurt." He also talks about he personal toll the experience has taken on his family and personal life, but says he thinks he's ended up okay: "It's been five years and I've been lucky. I've been very lucky for 5 years."
It's moving and surprisingly personal, from a guy who's seen a lot. Watch it below:
In Iraq, Journalist Richard Engel Sticks to the Story [WaPo]